Late Life Lesbians: Our Stories #10

Here is the next article in our series where we share our stories gathered from the online support group for women coming out later in life. For more information on this support group and how to request to join, go here. You can find the earlier posts and topics in this series here.


by Laurel Peterson
This month we’re discussing different topics related to late life lesbians who choose to stay married to their straight husbands, either temporarily or permanently. This week we’re discussing how these marital relationships fare once the woman realizes and accepts that she isn’t straight. Our question is:

If you stayed in your straight marriage after realizing your sexuality, in what ways did your marriage/relationship to your husband change?

Changed for the better

For some, the honesty of discussing and dealing with their sexuality with their husband actually strengthened their bond of friendship and relationship in a non-sexual manner.

Our relationship became better – though it took a few months. We have increased our open and honest communication. Our goal is amicable eventual separation, although we are currently together for financial reasons. We have three kids so continued communication and respect is key as we enter this new phase. We started couples counseling to aid us. – M


It was tough, but we renegotiated our lives separately, and now we are still in the same house and are very happy. – Alison


Distant yet cordial

Many more women become distant from their husbands in the wake of this situation, yet are still able to remain friendly and manage a household and co-parent peacefully.

Within three months of coming out, I made the decision that I could not stay married and be true to who my inner being is. Due to his current job, we are living overseas, but he is due to return to the US in July, and I am staying in Europe. I have moved to a separate bedroom. My husband feels like we are no more than roommates, and “everything has changed.” However, I still do many of the same household chores that I carried out as a dutiful wife for 22 years.– Rachel


After I came out to my husband, I decided to stay in the same house for financial reasons and to co-parent our daughter. I moved into a separate room, and having my own space has made it seem a little less strained. For the most part we have maintenance conversations and discuss our daughter. – Nicole

Evolving relationship

Several late life lesbians find their relationships with their husbands evolve throughout the process of coming out to them and starting to live authentically. Many are still in the process of charting this course.

It’s changing daily and it’s so painful. He’s dating and that stings. I’m not dating yet, not quite ready. We plan to live together for the next year for financial and parental reasons. Once the kids know then we’ll officially move my husband out of our bedroom. Still I’m dreading every step forward.. – Jen


When I came out to my husband, our relationship didn’t immediately change. As time wore on we stopped being intimate and then I asked him to sleep in a different bed. We agreed to an open marriage on both our ends, but now I’m seeing someone and he isn’t, so he wants me to give up the woman that I am in love with in order to just stay together and raise our boys. Our simple life is now very complicated and it’s definitely the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I do trust that in time he will accept this and be happy for me; and I am confident that he will meet someone when he is ready. – Karen


Deterioration of relationship overall

Unfortunately, often times the wear and tear of trying to stay together and make things work when you aren’t really “together” any more can take its toll.

Everything changed. I chose to stay in the same house for financial reasons. But everything about him completely annoys me, at best, or infuriates me. I think the biggest change is I had rose colored glasses on when it came to him and I took them off. I now see his bluster and bravado and his need to control everything! Previously, I didn’t see any of that. – Annie


We have continued to live together for various reasons, and it has been awful. We are both dating, and I have struggled with that. Most days, I can’t look him in the eyes. I’m angry and frustrated at being stuck in this situation and being his sounding board for his anger, frustration & sadness. I’m exhausted from trying to hold it together. We never used to fight, and I always accommodated his needs and opinions over my own, but this has changed. I’m more assertive now, and that is a definite positive. – Kerri


Abuse, loss of respect, and more

Even more than a deterioration of what was previously a good and amicable relationship, sometimes marriages in this situation can take a dark turn.

When we agreed to cohabitate for financial reasons after the marriage was over I grossly underestimated the toll that would take on me and us. It’s been almost three years and it’s easier to identify the ways that our marriage/relationship HASN’T changed. Staying in the same house meant that I got a front row seat to his grief process which included lots of blame, anger, accusations, verbal abuse and a complete lack of understanding or respect for me. – Susan


We cohabitated for almost a year until the divorce was final. I would spend “my time” with the kids until their dad came home. Then I would go to my room, and leave the door open if they needed me. I would not suggest this, as the kids saw me as withdrawing from THEM, even though I was in self preservation mode against their dad who was sending me hate-filled harassment texts multiple times per week. I was often sick to my stomach and would get migraines from the stress. When I moved out, a huge weight dropped and I was alive again…more alive the further I got from him. – April


In the end, how a straight marriage evolves once one person comes out as not straight depends largely on the state of mind and level of communication and respect both spouses have for each other. There is no question that this is one of the most difficult issues any straight marriage can face, and every relationship, just like the people within them, are different. Next week, we’ll cover the issue of same sex affairs within straight relationships.

Woman sittng on bench by a pond in the park

4 thoughts on “Late Life Lesbians: Our Stories #10

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you Andrea. I don’t have a support network or friends I can talk to, so reading your posts gives me great comfort. I’ve been happily married for 18 years, but when you know, you just know. I’m not ready to make changes, but that’s not a “never”, it just a “not yet”. Please keep writing. Thank you. M (in Australia)

  2. anonymous

    this is all so sad. I don’t know if I can even keep reading. I have been married to a man since 1999. we have two kids. I fell in love with a woman about 12 years ago. It ended in major heartbreak. it had been many years since I got close to a woman again. I did this year. thrilling. loved it. addicted. it just ended. I feel like I want to absolutely never ever go through that again. my husband is good and kind. I do not want a miserable life and I don’t trust women. I am so lonely and sad.

    1. Steph

      Hi. I am going through something very similar and feel for you. I just fell in love with a mentor of mine, my first ever feelings for a woman. She’s moving, has a pretty big drinking problem, and has no clue about her soul and what she wants. I have never felt so strongly about anyone, though. It is incredibly painful. My husband is a rock and my kids and family life with my husband mean so much to me. I have these intense feelings now and as exciting and wonderful as it was to kiss her, I feel like I am a mess. I am lonely and sad too, but am trying to focus on all the beauty in my life and be grateful. Good luck to you.❤

  3. Laure

    I am reading so many posts and feeling like I’ve found a secret home. I am 54 and felt my first real crush 12 years ago. I’m desperately trying to wrap my mind around all the tumult my leaving would cause me and everyone I’m close to. Again I tell myself wait. But the difference this time is I’ve come out to two people in my life. It’s a start. I’m waiting for Andrea to answer my email and add me to the Facebook group

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